One of the ways to have good mid-range in a SS amp is to make sure it can handle the bass fqz's of you speaker of choice without strain. That said, I can't comment on the Symphonic line..but I did compare a Batt (VK-500?, not sure if thats it's model name} to an old Krell Ksa-250. The speakers were my Apogee Duetta Signatures. The Krell crushed the Batt, I will explain why I think this took place.
The Batt, even though it was a $5,000 amp..was under strain. The Krell was at total ease and sounded that way. Both amps are rated at 250 watts per and should have driven my Duetta Sig's without a problem, the Batt mid-range began to glare everytime we pushed the volume into the 90db range, the Krell loved it and the speakers became alive with no hint of strain...(shows up most in the mid-range).
That said, I'm not selling Krell or BAT. My point is that the mid-range quality of an amp is affected by the row it must hoe and will vary with choice of speakers it must interact with. I'm talking about SS amps that are designed to be neutral. What-ever neutral means to you of course!
One of the reasons tube amp users like them so much is the fact that they clip "more gracefully" than SS amp designs, Dahhhh, don't drive you amp to clipping and the tube design has lost this advantage. Easy to say...but the speakers and room stick their heads into the mess. Tube amps maintain a better mid-range quality because of the way they clip under strain...their overall bass quality is mostly not that good but does not seem to affect the Mid-range in the way that SS amps do. This is the real reason why tube design is still a big hit...most music is in the Mid-range with the high and low fqz's as iceing on the cake.
Was not trying to bore you with my opinion, just something else to think about as you look for mid-range quality.
Give a listen if you can to the Plinius amps. SA 100's or 102 series. Their use of NPN rather than PNP devices are more linear and better sounding tham most SS designs which use PNP output devices. These amps are noted for thier tube like midrange quality with excellent bass. To my ears, these are some of the best SS amps. I use a BAT Vk5i pre and had prviously owned ARC VTM 120 tube monos. I much prefer the Plinius SA 100Mk11 I am using as it sounds much more balanced top to bottom in my system with out losing the tube like mids.
Best of luck with your search!-Ken
Well, this will probably be of no help to you as I'm a tube enthusiast, but if I were going to get back into SS I would try to find a pair of Threshold SA1's (class A Mono's) built in the late 80's and spend some bucks to get them rebuilt (if even needed). I ran Thiels with the SA3 (50 wt stereo amp - I couldn't afford the big ones then) to great effect. These were/are very neutral, grainless and dynamic amps. IMHO these were the best of Nelson Pass's amps.
If you must go SS try the BEL 1001 Mk V bridged-mono or the new Hovland Radia. Both have exceptional midranges and their frequency extremes aren't too shabby either.
Clayton Mono Blocs or Llano Trinity Amps are my choice. I have had the SA/1s and the VK-500 and the a few Krell's, they were no match for the Clayton or Llano.
Right on!! Symphonic Line amps DO have an awesome, grain-less midrange. I can say that w/ confidence thru my personal experience. Also, the Symphonic Line amp I have has a lot of "soul". From my communications w/ other Symphonic Line amp owners, I can inform you that this seems to be the case w/ many other of their products. I have also heard the Kraft 250 stereo & it too has an awesome midrange & has the same "house" sound.
If you are looking to spend some megabucks (I think you indicated so!) then also consider the Gryphon Antilleon Signature Stereo power amp. This beast weighs 90kgs & is 150W/ch pure class-A operation. Retails in the USA for $25,000! I heard this amp recently & it too has an effortless, natural & grain-free midrange. Plenty of bass slam too. Very musically satisfying. The cost was the only disadvantage to me.
There are other Gryphon products that might meet your budget if the above mentioned one is (well)over.
Also, consider the Swiss make - Goldmund. Also very, very expensive but is reputed to be simply excellent bar none. People tell me that once they finish dicking around w/ various other amps during their life-time in this audio hobby, they finally come to rest once they own a Goldmund! People tell me that their amps are ones to "graduate" too. I have no personal experience tho' only relating what I have been told by many others. IMHO. YMMV.
Pass Aleph 1.2 mono blocks.
Have to agree with Ken, Plinius SA102. I use mine with a VTL preamp. Have tube-like mids. Very balanced throughtout. Good luck. Mark
Based upon what my ears tell me (and somewhat in contradiction to MF's recent review in Stereophile), Theta's Enterprise monoblocks (or any Theta amp, for that matter) have beautiful midrange for a SS amp. The Citadels are rumored to be even better. I picked up a pair of Enterprises to power my Thiels, and the resulting midrange is very natural and musical. Of course, soundstage and imaging are really where the Thetas excel.
Boy Newbee, are we on the same page! I too feel that to date, the best solid state amps I've listened to top to bottom were the Threshold SA-1's, lovely mids, extended highs and very natural well defined bass. The Pass are nice but there was something magical about the Threshold that I haven't heard in any other ss amp. I liked them so much I bought a lesser Threshold S-200 (Class A-AB) that I was never completely satisfied with. It is the last ss amp I owned.
I've use a BAT VK500 for 5 years....it partners very well with this pre-amp....can't recommend this combo enough.
If your are looking for s.o.t.a ss amps, you must consider Spectral. They don't look like much, but they are very good for ss. Pass Labs is another great option, that IMHO is closer to the magic of tubes.
If $$$ is unlimited Halcro, too. However, I wouldn't call it a bargain.
H2O - the most natural amp I have ever heard. H2O is a start up company. There is no web site as yet. I can supply an email address for anyone interested.
I don't know if a class D amp is considered "solid state." I think it is still germain to the subject. The H2O floats a completely natural image at every frequency, including midrange.
Sogood was right in the need for an amp to be able to fully activate the bass for a great midrange. The H2O can power ANY speaker to it's fullest expression, including bass, with utter ease.
This is a biased report. I am in love with the H2O. I've tried all tubes, Pass Labs, Llano, Krell, eAR, and lesser luminaries. When it comes to midrange, highs, and lows, the H2O has no peers, in my experience.
I'm partial to Linn - not that I'm loyal to a name but I really think the Klimax series of components are in a class by themselves.
I haven't listened to all that's out there but having one myself I can agree with every review I've ever read - these things are what reference components SHOULD be. Just absolutely spectacular.
And throughout Linn's history they have spent an awful lot of time and effort on their midrange abilities. That's always been their signature along with PRAT - anyone remember Avtiv Kabers?
Their newer lines are less colored than the old Kabers and Keltiks but also much more refined. Something to consider..
And sorry, the Twin I have is already sold! So no hidden agenda here :)
the Symphonic Line and BAT is nothing more than just a popular name. You should really try BVaudio power amplifier as you can see at this review
BVaudio bettered BAT big time. No hum, no hiss or any kind of this "el cheapo" amp design problem. BVaudio is death quiet, only music, nothing else.
you might look at their web to find more.
Consider the GamuT 250 monoblocks. GamuT amps are among the most accurate and musical sounding.
Another vote for the GamuT line. Very musical amp. Excellent in the midrange
Another vote for BVAUDIO. Hearing is believing.
Assuming, of course, that your speakers have relatively high impedance and sensitivity, Pass Aleph 3 or 30. Nothing else comes close.
Parasound Halo JC-1's. I went from the ASL Hurricanes to these, so that tells you something about the midrange of the Halos.
They are the first SS amp that I've heard or owned that captures that elusive "there-ness" of glass, and all of the timbral richness, without some of the known drawbacks of tubes.
That's funny, Denf...I have both the ASL Hurricanes (latest version) and the JC-1s in my system right now.
Both are terrific amps, but unfortunately, I need to sell one of the pairs off. After listening to both over the last two months, in my system and to my ears, the 'canes are the better amps. I feel that they exhibit better timbre, more natural midrange, and the soundstage is more holographic and believable. Of course they're also less powered and the bass is much better on the JC-1s. But that triode mode!!
It's all about compromises and what you value most. For me, the 'canes are better by a slim margin. Oh well, to each his own.
I really wish I could afford keep both though! Great amps for the $$!
You and me both 1markr -- I too wish I could have kept both the 'Cane's and the JC-1's!
I went through the EXACT dilemma of going back and forth between the two, for about 6 weeks. Every time I thought "OK, I'll put the Hurricanes back in the system, and see if there's some midrange magic I've been missing with the JC-1's..", it was never the case. The JC-1's, at least in my system, just never gave up anything to the mighty Hurricanes. Indeed, I actually heard more "detail", more things going on in the recording/s and just better overall musical reproduction with the JC-1's.
Also, the biggest area (and the real clincher in this battle of the power amps) was the high frequency reproduction. With my ML Prodigy's at least, the highs are MUCH more extended and open with the JC-1's. (This slight loss of extension and "air" was in fact what had me restlessly searching, yet again, for something better than the ASL's in the first place).
Also, some recordings that sounded a little "hard", at loud-ish levels with the Hurricanes, the JC-1's simply sail through smooth, and unfazed.
All these things ultimately had me sell the 'Canes and keep the JC-1's, and believe me, I really didn't think anything near the price would un-seat the 'Canes. (I almost lost a bet with a buddy of mine, who also has a pair of JC-1's when I thought for sure, they would "lose", hands down, to the big 'Canes in a friendly shoot-out).
These "differences" are still rather minor, and you are absolutely right, the Hurricanes and JC-1's are both fantastic amps.
(Had I never heard the JC-1's, I still could easily have lived the the 'canes! ;)
Pass Labs Alpeh 0 ( mono's )